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Letter at length, October 19

OSAA's proposed reclassification will hurt AHS sports teams

As a parent of a student-athlete at Ashland High School, I am very concerned by the Oregon State Athletic Association's proposal to place AHS in an athletic league with five 6A schools, each of which have current student populations of 150 to 175 percent greater than AHS. If the OSAA finalizes this plan on Oct. 26, it will be a recipe for the demise of AHS' athletic programs. Why is this proposal so detrimental to AHS and its students?

1) Our teams' ability to compete successfully with schools so much larger than ours will be negligible. We will not have anywhere near the depth of talent of the larger schools, due to our much smaller student population. In our current conference, AHS is able to maintain three competitive fall boys sports: football, soccer and cross-country. This will be impossible if we are in a league so top-heavy in 6A schools.

2) Larger teams can rotate players in and out of games to give them a rest. If we will be facing league schedules against teams with football, baseball and basketball rosters twice the size of ours, just by sheer numbers, we will be unable to keep up with our competitors' more and better-rested players.

3) In contact sports like football, competing against larger schools with more heavier players, our student-athletes run serious risk of injury playing these larger schools.

4) All this will lead to an avalanche of athletic losses, injuries, demoralization of the athletes, reduction of support for athletics from the AHS student body and Ashland community, and fewer and fewer of our students wanting to put in the time, effort and toil in what will become a continually futile effort to compete.

For these reasons, the current proposal is patently unfair to current and future AHS students, who deserve the opportunity to a level playing field. It is not the role of AHS athletes to serve as cannon fodder for the five large schools to our north.

And when one looks at the demographic trends, with AHS' projected enrollment dropping by about 5 to 7 percent over the next four years, our inability to compete with the five 6A schools in the proposed Southern Oregon Hybrid League will be a foregone conclusion.

Putting AHS (along with Eagle Point) into the Skyline Conference with similarly sized schools would provide our Ashland students the opportunity for fair competition without forcing them to spend three to four hours a day riding buses to Eugene, jeopardizing their grades, their safety and their health.

The OSAA needs to hear from our community before they make a decision that will irreparably harm our community, our high school and our student athletes.

Please sign the petition requesting that the OSAA include Ashland (and Eagle Point) in the Skyline Conference by logging on to www.ipetitions.com/petition/ahs_osaa_petition.

Art Baden